Duterte sees self as socialist and final ace of the Filipinos
Strongman and populist candidate Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for supposedly "coddling and supporting" the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army, to which he flatly responded: "I am not a communist. I am a socialist.
"Ako, sosyalista. Hindi ako komunista. Kaming mga sosyalista, para kami sa tao," said the tough talking mayor in a Friday night rally.
The self styled socialist also said he sees himself as the country's "last card", alluding to him being the saviour or last hope this country has for the presidency. Duterte's main platforms have gained the support of some people. Expunging poverty, corruption, criminality and drug trafficking is the main battle cry of the mayor. Some people have come to believe that this is the way to go, though much of this has been marred with allegations of possible executive power abuse and disrespect for the due process.
"At the end of the day, makita ninyo, ako ang huling baraha ng Pilipino," he added.
Most of these statements come as a response to the recent statements of his political rival and opponent for the presidency, Mar Roxas, who has labeled the mayor as "coddling" and "supporting" the NPA rebels. Roxas alleges that Duterte gives in to the NPA's demand for "revolutionary taxes" in Mindanao. He has also been criticized for his supposed link and control over the Davao Death Squad. The DDS is the personification of vigilante justice in Mindanao, mostly concentrating only on small time criminals such as drug traffickers. However, there are also some rumors that the DDS is also behind the killings of certain minors who have been tied, but never proven, to drug trafficking.
While the Davao mayor made the distinction between him being a socialist as opposed to communist, he did not explain the difference.
Duterte aims to expand the middle class by expanding tax credits for small businesses. His social policies would begin with basic social services, not big infrastructure. This contradicts the strategy of the administration. However, not focusing on infrastructure would mean trading off certain opportunity costs. The mayor has yet to justify why such trade offs are necessary, much to the chagrin of his opponents and their followers.
Perhaps the closest justification the mayor has is that he must put the people first.
"Tao muna ha? Wala muna akong bridge," said the mayor. Roxas has been vocal about increasing infrastructure projects in the Philippines, which he believes has led to the economic success the country has been enjoying under the Aquino administration. It is unclear from the mayor on how he would improve the economy if one aspect, infrastructure, is not very robust.
In a Duterte presidency, P1 billion will be allotted for venture capital, not for "consumption". He means to start up small businesses as the way to help people get by. He also pressed his policy to end contractualization.
"Ang pag-asa natin (our hope) is to raise the middle class... Not grandiose, (but) I will try to build a strong middle class if you want a nation that is progressive."